Casefile Clues

07 April 2009

Seattle Washington

I was in Seattle, Washington, last weekend for the annual conference of the Organization of American Historians. It was a whirlwind.

I gave a paper on modern genealogy for the historian in a Saturday morning session at the conference. I co-presented with Elizabeth Shown Mills who gave an excellent paper on modern genealogy methodology and practices. Our papers were well received and hopefully we provided the attendees with a look at current trends in genealogical research. My goal was how genealogy can be incorporated into the classroom to motivate students' interest in "microhistory" and how documents and records on the "common man and woman" can be used as a springboard into discussions on larger historical and social trends.

The picture in this blog post (Elliott Bay is in the background) is courtesy of Cyndi of http://www.cyndislist.com/. Cyndi graciously picked me up at the airport when I arrived and she hosted a wonderful lunch on top of the Space Needle. She told me that her father built it singlehandedly and she has the scrapbook of pictures and clippings to prove it. Actually, he did work on it while it was being built--something about bubbles in cement. Cyndi also drove me around the market area and while we couldn't find a place to easily part, we had a really nice conversation and I did get to see some of the sites. We solved the problems of the genealogy world and raising teenagers all in one afternoon. I had a great time--even if it was really windy on top of the Space Needle and if we never figured out the "meaning" of the buildings that comprise the nearby music museum.

My long-time friend, history professor Juli Jones was also in Seattle for OAH and we had a nice dinner Friday night getting ready for the Saturday morning presentation. It was great catching up and meeting her new husband.

I hit the book vendor area after my presentation with Elizabeth Shown Mills was over and managed to pick up six books to occupy my spare time (topics: women's history, frontier Midwest, and public school history). I'll be mentioning those in the upcoming months here on this site and in my Dick Eastman column. Stay tuned.

I dropped my books off at my hotel (the Roosevelt in downtown Seattle which was very nice by the way) and met my first cousin once removed Nancy Ufkes (Alvin's youngest daughter for those relatives who are reading this). I hadn't seen Nancy in probably twenty-five years or thereabouts. She wasn't able to come to the funeral of her grandma Ufkes (my great-grandmother) and I missed the funeral of her father a few years ago as well. It was great catching up and we Ufkeses do have an interesting sense of humor. We had a wonderful lunch at a restaurant on the lake whose name I forget (both the name of the restaurant and the name of the lake).

Nancy took me to the first Starbucks so I could get my picture taken and purchase a mug for my oldest daughter who is a big Starbucks fan. Nancy also drove me past the Microsoft campus and we sat in a wine/coffee shop and chatted while we watched a young lady at an adjacent table dump her blind date right in front of our very eyes. We also discussed our some of our common family history--both in and out of print!

A great time. It's not often I get to connect with old friends and relatives while on a weekend trip. And I don't mean "old" in the negative sense of the word either--I don't want Cyndi or Nancy giving me any flack!

Thanks to Juli for asking me to co-present at OAH and thanks to Cyndi and Nancy for showing me around during my whirlwind tour of Seattle.